New and Noteworthy

Communicating Project Updates using Video

October 4, 2016

Communicating Project Updates using Video    (Want to watch this post as a VIDEO instead?)


I'm an old-school developer. I got my start in the 1980s. I have fond memories of handing in an IBM punch card deck, 2 inches thick, then waiting until the next day to see if my class assignment ran as expected.

We're now in an age where our servers are virtualized and rented by the hour from Amazon.

The point is, everything changes.

For the past few years, I've been communicating with our clients by emailed screen shots. I take a capture of a new screen, type out what's changed and how to use it, and what button to click. Then a new screen appears, so I take a capture of that screen and type out what to do next. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Recently I tried switching to video documentation, and so far it's been a positive experience all around.

To accomplish video documentation, I used a tool that I'd already subscribed to – GotoMeeting. In addition to the meeting functionality, GotoMeeting allows you to record your meeting, which includes video of your application and audio from your computer microphone. I'm sure there are better ways, but this was available and easy.

I start a meeting, show my screen, and start the recording. I talk for a few minutes, clicking and talking out loud to describe the what/why/how. If I need to wait for an operation to finish, I can stop recording for a bit, then resume where I left off.

The result is an MP4 file that I save to the MBI web server. This gives me a link I can publish by email, which I then send to my client. The email is short and sweet … "Hi, here's the new proposed feature, take a look at the video and let me know what you think."

So far, client response has been positive. It communicates the point of the change far better than screen shots, including far more detail, and it takes about the same amount of time to do.

I think it's a keeper. At least for a few years.

Website Store Integration – Part 2

August 17, 2016

Website Store Integration – Part 2

Last month I wrote about using an out-of-the box solution to replace a custom program that uploaded products into a website store.

An upate for this project is in order:

The client is running Magento Community Edition, an open-source e-commerce platform used by about 250k online stores.
The out-of-the-box solution we've implemented is Store Manager for Magento, by eMagicOne. Store manager is a windows application that makes managing a Magento store easy. Every requirement that was posed by our client has been filled by this software: Publish the products, upload the images, maintain tiered pricing for designated customers, and support search for products using competitive manufacturer's part numbers.

There is precisely ZERO custom code. The client's Parts Master excel spreadsheet is imported into Store Manager, then published to the website store. With 10 minutes and three easy steps, the spreadsheet information is live on the store.

Not to say there was ZERO expense. The Store Manager was about $500, and it took a chunk of consulting time to work out the import details. But the result is win-win, and should withstand version upgrades and any new requirements easily.

Working Smarter with Rapid Application Development, Low Code

July 20, 2016

Working Smarter with Rapid Application Development, Low Code

As a small shop of IT System developers, it's important that we maximize the impact of the development time we spend.

Our clients expect quality software that is compatible with large monitors, tablets, and smart phones. They expect a lot of functionality to be delivered quickly. Think weeks, not months.

Recently a friend has turned me on to a Rapid Application Development (RAD), Low Code solution. I'm currently evaluating it, and I'll be posting about it here in the next few weeks.

If you want to hear more about RAD, please Like the MBI Systems page so that you won't miss my product review.

If you're a developer and have a favorite RAD solution, please comment with the name and a word or two about the features.

And if you need rapid development for a custom software project for 50 users or more, please consider us.

Website Store Integration

July 15, 2016

This week at MBI Systems: Website Store Integration

One of our clients has an online store. Before coming on-board with MBI, they worked with a programmer to build an integration between their internal listing of products for sale and the store. The result was that they could publish their internal listing to the website in one easy step. All of the products, descriptions, prices, and pictures appeared immediately on the website.

Six or seven years passed. And suddenly their old integration has failed.

As a result, the online store is no longer easy to update. We've been asked to find a solution. This is still a work-in-progress, but we've found an out-of-the-box solution that a vendor has developed. This solution will take care of pushing the product details up to the website, likely at a fraction of the cost of re-developing or debugging the existing integration.

At MBI, we're all about finding win-win solutions – and putting them to work for you.

SalesLogix CRM Enhancements

June 28, 2016

Today at MBI Systems: SalesLogix CRM Enhancements

A long-time financial services client has requested that a pop-up screen be added to SalesLogix when their representatives sign on. This will alert them to key actions that they need to take to ensure their clients are remain qualified.

Tailoring software to fit the business model - our specialty!

Accord LMS - Interzoic

Review of Accord LMS - 5 stars

June 27, 2016

Last week we hit the 5 year mark in working with Accord LMS from Interzoic.

Accord is our recommended choice in Learning Management Software for the DotNetNuke environment.

One of our client companies uses Accord to educate employees with their SCORM-complient software, easing the onboarding process.  The quizzes are used to ensure the content is understood before moving on to the next topic.

Accord has allowed us to coordinate the learning events with the employment application process.  Applicants that pass an initial screening receive access to additional learning events, and completing those courses move them farther along in the application process.

Ready to explore how a Learning Management System can impact your business?

Website - Reviews